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Schneidered

In June of this year I was in San Francisco for the Team Trials and visited with Gary Schneider, a good friend who had moved there from Fort Lauderdale. We took a few days to see Alcatraz, scenic Marin County, and the Zoo. And speaking of zoos, back to bridge.

4 H by South

None Vul
S Q 9 7 6 5
H 10 9 8 6 5
D A J
C 2
S K 10 3
H K 2
D Q 10 8 3
C A J 9 3
TableS A 8 4
H J 3
D 9 7 6 5 4
C 7 6 5
Lead: C AS J 2
H A Q 7 4
D K 2
C K Q 10 8 4

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
North

2 D
2 S
East

Pass
Pass
South
1 NT
2 H
4 H

Schneider was South on this 1986 deal at the FLBC. He opened an off-shape 1 NT, a reasonable bid having an honor in each doubleton. This caused West to huddle momentarily — a clue that Schneider would use later. North’s 2 D was a Jacoby transfer and South obligingly bid 2 H. North next bid 2 S to show 5-5 in the majors and South jumped to game with his great heart fit.

West led the C A and shifted to a diamond, won by dummy’s jack. The normal play to avoid a loser in the trump suit is to finesse the queen; but Schneider felt West had the king from his reluctant pass over 1 NT. Accordingly, he embarked on a clever campaign to induce an error. He cashed the H A, crossed to the D A, and led another heart; jack; queen; king.

West was on lead in an uncomfortable situation. Looking at all four hands it is obvious to lead a spade and defeat the contract; but West did not know his partner held the S A. Clearly, a diamond lead would yield a ruff and discard, so West returned a “harmless” club. This indeed would have been harmless if declarer held a balanced hand; but the hidden five-card club suit provided four discards for North’s spades. I guess you could say that West was schneidered on this one.

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© 1996 Richard Pavlicek